The third most senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs is stepping down amid findings she misled ethics officials to secure approval for VA Secretary David Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on taxpayer-funded trip to Europe.
Vivieca Wright Simpson, Shulkin’s chief of staff, told colleagues Friday morning that she is retiring after 32 years at the agency and more than two years as Shulkin’s most senior aide.
The announcement came two days after the VA inspector general released recommendations that she be disciplined for doctoring an email to an ethics lawyer to show Shulkin was getting special recognition or an award during the trip to Denmark and London last year, the criteria for clearing his wife’s flights on the public’s dime.
Wright Simpson declined to comment.
Shulkin confirmed the move to USA TODAY and said he intends to continue in his post and remains commited to fulfilling President Trump’s agenda in overhauling the VA.
He apologized earlier this week for mistakes he and his staff made in planning and taking the trip last July. He reimbursed the government for his wife’s airfare and is seeking to reimburse a British veterans’ advocate for Wimbledon tickets he and his wife accepted improperly.
“I am committed to continuing the work that I came here to do, which is to support the president’s agenda to reform the VA and fix the VA the way that veterans deserve, the care and services they’ve earned,” he said. “And I am going to remain focused on that task and I am not going to get distracted from what we have to do.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, Donovan Slack